An online forum I love has organized a blog tour. We’re going to have various members post on a specific topic and then at the bottom of the post, link to all the other members who have posted on the same topic. For our maiden voyage, the subject matter is (appropriately) the strangest vacation you ever took.
My first thought was, “I never went anywhere!” We have, of course, gone places, but they were normal vacations. Beaches, tourist attractions, natural wonders, relatives’ houses. Nothing very strange in all that, unless you count some of the strange Philangelus relatives — but since some of those relatives may read this weblog, we’ll just gloss that over. Ah-heh.
And then I remembered The Bunker.
I wasn’t more than 14. Maybe younger. It was a long weekend. A family friend invited us to his “place” about two hours from the city for some fun, some running around in the open air. It sounded good. My mom, brother and I teamed up with another parent and two kids for the trip; we rented a minivan and made plans to head out Friday night. We’d all meet at this place in the country.
The host had told us the best place to eat dinner that night en route. I was the oldest kid; the others were all boys, and hungry boys get…well, boisterous. They were shouting, hitting, screaming in the van as we drove. I wore headphones but still got elbowed, and my temper got shorter by the mile. They’d behave for a bit but then go nuts again. We still had an hour to go to reach the designated restaurant, but the adults decided to pull over for some fast food, and a Burger King appeared on the horizon.
We get in to find they have no meat. Seriously, the Home of the Whopper was whopper-free at that moment, and my mother said, the heck with it. We’re finding something to eat anyhow. We scrounged the menu until we somehow came up with meals.
Proceed to the friend’s property, where we’re greeted and set up in different bedrooms. Friend has a trailer, but somehow four extra kids and two extra adults all find places to sleep. The next morning, we explore.
There is nothing there. It’s all nature, wild and uncultivated, the only hint of habitation the single trailer and a cabin a short distance away. We fool around outside, playing with frisbees and baseballs, and then the host invites us to visit the cabin.
From what I remember, the cabin was two stories, with one floor underground or practically invisible from the outside. We entered and looked around, nice enough. And then he took us downstairs, into the lower level where I have two impressions of what we saw:
1) canned goods. Stacked to the ceiling. Hundreds of them, if not more.
2) toilet paper. Again, stacked to the ceiling. Miles of the stuff.
In the afternoon, he brought us to another shed, hidden in the woods, where he unlocked it to reveal dozens of rifles and crates of ammo. We all got a brief course on gun safety, and then he proceeded to teach the four kids how to shoot. (I was very good at it, by the way, but you knew I’d be.)
Later on, he instructed me that when the UN arrived to take over the world, I was to somehow make my way out of the city and journey here, to this location, and he would help me join the resistance movement and preserve my freedom.
Now, do you want to know what makes this strange? That I didn’t consider this at all out of the ordinary. I’d grown up hearing people talk about cataclysms, the end of the world, nuclear war, and The Day After. I grew up with a post-Nixon cynicism about government, and the idea that the UN planned to take over was just another thing to file away: If you get separated from Mom on the train, get off and stay on the platform until she comes. Don’t cross on the blinking “don’t walk” sign. And if you get attacked and subdued by the black helicopters of the UN forces, escape from the city and go to The Bunker out in the rolling hills.
My mother, on the other hand, thought it all lunacy.
I’m still in contact with the family friend. I think he’s sold the land with the cabin and the trailer. I took riflery in college and enjoyed it a lot, but I stank at it by then. And I still get a giggle out of the Burger King with no burgers.
Other blogs on the “strangest vacation blog tour” are: